Postcards From Dr. Ed

 

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 James 1:4

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Dear Timothy,

I have left to explore the trail seldom taken, the Bettering road. – Dr. Ed

I’ve mentioned my imaginary friend before, the physician whose practice is in the corner of my mind. The short gentlemen with the Einstien like mustache and silver buzz cut, Dr. Ed, edification expert. He practices what he refers to as “the anti-me”, or honoring others above self. A whimsical illustration in a world that too often is slow to say thank you, but quick to say what about me.

I hadn’t heard from him in a while, so naturally I was concerned when I got this letter. As crazy as it may seem, I was worried about my sensitive friend. Could he survive in this cold and sometimes uncaring world? That’s when the postcards started.  

Pictures from across the country of people caring for others. Snapshots of individuals who spend their waking hours caring for others more than themselves. Lives that aren’t only vacationers from selfishness, but citizens of another realm. A place where caring about your brother isn’t a relic, but a daily, reoccurring event.

The Pastor’s Wife who not only takes care of her family, but works until midnight in the care of others. She, along with the volunteers I saw the last two nights prepping for VBS to ensure the kids have a special experience. Or the man who put politics aside to comfort an opponent during a time of loss.  These people practice the act of living life’s which better those in their pathway every day.

We live in a world of noise, where kindness isn’t a stranger, just simply drowned out. Selfishness is loud, selflessness isn’t. Caring for others goes about its business quietly. It not only doesn’t seek the spotlight, it avoids it entirely.

There are good people still in this world, kind, caring, and polite individuals. They just don’t advertise themselves. If it doesn’t seem like it to us, we have two courses of action. The first is to lament the loss, shake the head, and go about our way.

The other is to pick up the banner of edification and blaze a trail. We can activate in our own lives what we see as absent in our sphere of influence. Be kind, be thoughtful, be polite, and hardest of all, be patient.

Let’s face it, our common concern goes out the window when someone cuts us off in traffic. When someone is rude, our reaction isn’t to counter their attitude, but to compound it with our own. I can’t affect my world if I act just like it.

That’s what the practice of edification is all about. It’s not a natural instinct, but a cultivated response. Patience is a virtue, and virtues take work. Improving our world is completely doable, if we’re willing to work at it daily.

I’ll wrap this up with my friend’s prescription for a sour world, which is a daily transfusion. “Every individual must roll up their sleeve and give of themselves daily.” As simple as it is, that’s it. Smiling when not easy, caring for the lives around you, and thinking about them is a great way to travel through life.  You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it makes.

Dr Ed Makes A House Call

The following is our fourth article in our Edification Series. My Father taught me that some of the best lessons are injected with laughter. This gave birth to the character of Dr. Ed, our Surgeon General Of Encouragement. We hope you enjoy his prescription for combatting worry today.

You’re all familiar with my brain’s resident encourager, Dr. Ed. By now, you are also expecting a trip to his studio, but not this time. Today Dr. Ed made a house call.

“Are you going to stand there with your mouth open, or ask me in?” I was in shock, I didn’t expect my daydreams to be interrupted by my smiling friend. “Of course, come in. Why are you here?” “I’m making a house call, you were daydreaming.”

He walked past me and laid his bag on the table. It wasn’t your typical physician’s bag, it looked like a large red velvet carpet bag. He pulled a stethoscope out and listened to my heart. “A murmur.” I blinked, then laughed. “How can a fictional doctor diagnose a heart murmur?”

He smiled back. “You were daydreaming.” I sighed, I was avoiding the obvious. The minute he had said daydreaming, I knew why he was there. The daydream was a pleasant experience, until a hint of worry reared it’s ugly head, that was the murmur.

“What have we said about worry Timothy?” “That it is unproductive, unnecessary, and very human.” He nodded. “True. Let us consider the symptom prior to the cure. The strongest Christian will face trouble, and we will have times of stress. Medically speaking, ‘A functional murmur or “physiologic murmur,” is a heart murmur that is primarily due to physiologic conditions outside the heart, as opposed to structural defects in the heart itself. Functional murmurs are benign (an “innocent murmur”).'”

He paused, took out something from his case and continued. “Chronic worry however is neither innocent, nor functional. It must be examined, extracted, and eradicated. For your well being, and for the well being of those around you.” “I agree, Doctor, by the way, what did you take out of your bag?”

The next sound I heard was, “Ow”, and it came from me. “What is that thing? A hyper-anti-hallucinatory-worry-ometer?” “No, it’s a mallet. I just hit you with it.” “I know!” I said as I rubbed my head. “Why?” “Because you know better.” “If I had wanted you to hit me on the head for worrying, I would have asked you too.” That was when he reminded me that he is a figment of my imagination. Next he quoted two of my favorite verses, Psalms 11:1, 4.

Psalms 11:1, 4
1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord ‘s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men.

“Why do you love those two verses?” I laughed. “Because when people try and worry me, I can say I know Who I trust in. As long as He is on His throne, everything will be ok.”

He just looked at me. Then walked around me a couple of times. Finally, I said, “What is it?” “A murmur can be caused by a valve leaking. The Truth of that Scripture is in your head, but it must have leaked out somewhere.” “It didn’t leak out, it just got…” “Buried, ignored, stifled, drowned out…” I held up my hand. “I get the point.”

“No, I’m not sure you do. Sometimes, the way to counteract worry is to verbalize what we know is true, and not what we fear might happen. It’s not enough to know it, it must be enacted, enabled, and evaluated. You enact it’s effectiveness against worry by stating it. That’s Faith working through your vocal chords. You enable the Scriptural Truth as the primary vehicle driving your thoughts by focusing on it completely, not half heartedly. Finally, as you evaluate it, you remember the past concrete examples.”

“Meaning every time that The Lord has taken care of me personally.” He was ecstatic now. “Scripture must be applied personally to counter a personal battle. When we remember that we are in a relationship with a faithful God, it will illuminate His work in our lives. It also does something else. It exposes the fact that the majority of our fears are false. They murmur in our minds scenarios that have never happened to us before, and have little chance of starting now.”

“We all experience some occasional fear. An idle worry is an innocent murmur, but give life to it, and it becomes a Frankenstein. Just ask the Israelites who walked through the wilderness. Their murmurs not only ended their lives, it changed their destiny. It is our choice what we do. Once the worry enters our thoughts.”

“What about legitimate fears, things that have, or actually will happen?” I knew where he was going next. “Legitimate fears still face a Legitimate God. One that rules, not only in our hearts, but the cosmos. The God who, not only formed the sun and moon, but caused them to stand still for Joshua. He who shined from Calvary when the sun was too sorrowed for it’s Creator to give light. The same One whose Glory illuminated the walls of the grave that He exited!”

“Worry is a con man peddling a shell game of maybes. God is Our Friend, and an unfailing One at that!” He took a breath, winked, grabbed his bag, and headed for the door. I hollered after him. “Thanks Doc, I’ll remember.” He responded as the door closed behind him. “I would cure the malady, else the mallet will return.”

Dr. Ed’s Hobo Apprentice

This morning I visited Dr. Ed once again. Now as I have said previously, it’s an inspirational yet quirky corner of my brain. Dr. Ed is among other things a Strategic Encourager. He goes to great, and unusual lengths, to accomplish this. You never quite know what to expect next, which is why I always enter with the intent of not being surprised, and yet I always leave amazed.

Prior to reaching the studio this morning, I was walking in the parking lot. I’m used to strange vehicles, after all this is an imaginary journey. I did not however expect to see a train box car parked near the front. You know the kind I’m talking about, you see it in old movies, it’s usually behind a steam locomotive.

That was odd enough, but when I walked through the front door, I heard train sounds in the lobby, when I walked to where Dr. Ed’s office was last visit, a make shift tent and clothesline had replaced it. I walked through the opening and instantly everything was even weirder than I expected, no surprise.

It was what we would have called years ago, a hobo’s camp. Various character traits, and figments of my imagination, Tom Sawyer etc. were all around. I asked if the Doctor was in and they pointed me east. When I arrived, I couldn’t help but laugh at what I saw.

There was Dr. Ed, shoeless, socks in his coat pocket, his suit legs rolled up, wading in a creek. He was holding a make shift fishing pole talking to a hobo that looked very much like me when I am severely depressed, he called him Rome.

“Rome, you can’t get so down when you have a problem. Everybody goes through things, some days you’ll have good days, other days will be absolutely, completely, utterly horrible. Some days will be terrible, excruciating periods of time that you will fight the entire day.” It was there that I stopped him. I took him aside, for the first time ever, Dr. Ed was off his game.

I said, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings Dr. Ed, but I don’t think you’re being very edifying right now. That’s not the way I would lead in to fixing this guy’s problem.” His response was to laugh at me, and hand me his fishing pole. Then he stuck both hands in the water, and pulled out a 10 lb trout.

I stood there dumbfounded and confused, a byproduct of a visit to Dr. Ed. “My dear boy, Rome is not the one that is discouraged. He is my apprentice, Dr. Ed. Jr. if you wish. Trademark and Patent pending of course. I’m training him on what to expect in his practice of roaming the countryside encouraging others.”

He continued, “You see, encouragement is not done in a vacuum. It’s easy to encourage others on good days. It’s even somewhat easy on mildly perturbing days. The real challenge is to encourage others on those days when they feel that they are fighting for their very existence.”

All of this he explained while wrestling to hold on to a flopping trout. “Ok, I see I’ve stepped into another one of your visual workshops, so explain the hobo and the fish.” He laughed, “My dear boy, Rome is merely going to travel the box car of your cerebral cortex attempting to encourage those who are somewhat perplexed or cast down by life’s circumstances.”

“In other words, preferably English words, he’s going to Edify when someone’s down. That I get, but how does talking about the horrible days, an imaginary hobo, and that trout accomplish that?” At which point, he pitched the trout towards me, so I dropped the fishing pole. Now I stood there, the pole submerged under my feet, fighting to hold on to the daily catch.

Dr. Ed sat down on the bank and began to explain. “As I was saying to Rome, people fight every day just to hold on to some form of peace. The mistake we, even as Christians, make is this, we think that our happiness depends on our circumstances. In other words, much like a fisherman, we’re only happy when we ‘catch’ something.”

“If we don’t catch anything one day, were mildly unhappy. Two days we’re worried, three days and we’re in a panic. We can get so overwhelmed that when we do finally catch something, we toss everything out just to hang on to what we’ve accomplished, or pursued.

“We sacrifice the tools of our trade for the results, much like you sacrificed the instrument that would catch more fish for one measly trout. The songwriter said in this way.”

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

I nodded, he wasn’t off his rocker at all, he was just getting my attention. “In other words, we should cherish the Provider more than His provision, especially in the hard days. I should have dropped the fish, and held on to the fishing pole?” He smiled, “You’re close, but the fishing pole is merely the tool that God gave you to reap His provision.”

“Too many people substitute trusting in their talents instead of trusting in the Giver Of Talents. In those times when you’re cold, tired, and frustrated, don’t hold on to your things, or your means of obtaining those things. Hold on to The God that gave you both, but this isn’t about material things, this is about your state of mind.”

I dropped the fish and smiled. Dr. Ed smiled, “What have you learned?” “Oh no”, I said, “Rome is your pupil, give him the pop quiz.” Rome joined us, “Dr. Ed was saying two things actually, one before you got here, and the other after you arrived.”

“First, my mission is not to explain to others why they should be happy. Edifying leads to happiness, but it’s not it’s first stop. The Scripture tells us not only to Rejoice with them that rejoice, but to mourn with them that mourn. I’m too support those who are going through a battle.”

“Not so much by the words that I say, but the shoulder I have to bear their burdens with. I can’t get so caught up in results that I miss the point. I’m not here to erase every problem, I’m to be with them until the problem ends. Edifying your friends is an act of relationship. One of the most famous Scriptures in the Book of Psalms is in Psalms 23, Verse 4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me;”

“David was encouraged in this, not by the words God said, but by God’s presence. At times, all I have to be to encourage others, is too simply be there for them. Even if it’s as simple as going fishing with a friend who’s down.”

Dr. Ed gave Rome an A+ that day, and like always, I learned something in the process. The three of us spent the afternoon setting on the bank fishing. We caught some, missed others, and enjoyed some fellowship.

His apprentice learned a lot this summer, as did I. This included the fact that encouraging others is more about relationship than accomplishment. It’s taken time for me to learn that over the years, but it took his apprentice some time too. You’ll forgive me, but after all, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’

Dr. Ed’s Life Altering Elixir

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Hello, I wanted to share with you my latest adventure with Dr. Ed. As you know, Dr. Ed’s studio is a fictitious place in my imagination. Dr. Ed is a character, and what a character. It is my hope in these small articles to bring a smile to your face, and an encouragement to your soul. With that being said, please join me on another trip to Dr. Ed.

It was this morning, I proceeded to his studio, and I heard elevated voices from within. When I let myself in, I saw a crowd of people gathered around a small stage. The people looked sad, angry, mad, and confused.

Standing beside of a small, smiling, gray haired man was Dr. Ed. He was listening quietly to the man. “I am a changed man. I’m no longer sad, sour faced, or sarcastic since starting taking this elixir. My wife says I seem happier than I’ve ever been in my life, she’s nicknamed me Smiley!”

With that he waddled off the platform and Dr. Ed began to speak. “Thank you Mr. Grumpus for that rousing endorsement. Yes friends, with Dr. Ed’s Life Altering Elixir you will snap less. You will smile more! When someone comes to you complaining about their day, you will have something sweet and wonderful to say!”

There were shouts across the crowd. “I’ll buy one!” “I’ll try a bottle!” He must be an incredible salesperson, because they each bought four tiny bottles of red liquid. He waved to them as they walked out. “Are you going to explain, or just leave me standing here confused.” To which he replied, “Of course, of course, come with me.”

We walked past the open air of the studio into his corner office. Inside was a drink dispenser and a small conveyor belt. He stirred up two batches of rasberry iced tea and poured it in the top of the machine. “So the tea mixes with the medicine to create the elixir I see?” He shook his head, “No my boy, the tea is the only liquid ingredient of the elixir.”

“So the rest is powdered form?” He shook his head again, “No, verbal. The most potent ingredient of the elixir are it’s instructions.” I looked at him like he was crazy, he remarked. “Considering this whole allegory takes place in a corner of your mind, and I’m a fictitious character of your own creation. Do you really want to take up the question of mental rationality?”

I cleared my throat and he continued. “You see my friend, Mr. Grumpus and his sad sack pals are in need of something stronger than medication. They are in need of an altered attitude. They mitigate their misery through aggravating one another. Mr. Grumpus grumps. Goselyn Gossip spreads slander about friend and foe alike. Sad Sally always looks at what’s wrong in the world, and her twin sister Connie the Complainer gripes.”

“I have to admit, they’re some of the saddest and meanest looking people I’ve ever seen!” “My dear Timothy, you should have looked at them more closely. May I remind you that all of us are potential personality traits rumbling around in your head? Did you not see the resemblance of Mr. Grumpus to you in the morning?” I was shocked, “Are you saying that I’m Mr. Grumpus?”

“No, but you have the potential to be. You, and every person, has the potential to grump, gripe, saturate in self pity, and even spread rumors about others through your life?” I nodded again, I do that a lot when Dr. Ed starts talking.

“What I had to do was offer them an alternative, a nature change.” I interrupted, “In other words, you wanted them to be more Edifying!” He slapped me on the back, “You’ve got it, they needed to spread good words, not bad, positive emotions, and not negative ones.”

“I wanted them to connect with the metaphor, ‘Put good in, good will come out. It has made a world if difference. Now are you ready to hear the instructions I gave them?” I nodded again, told you that happens with him.

“They are to take two teaspoons after prayer and Bible reading in the morning. It is also imperative that they not utter one negative word while the medicine is in their system. Mr. Grumpus has replaced griping over coffee with family devotions. Goselyn has stopped her gossip, and now has time to help others. Connie and Sally now go around with a smile and a song”

“How much do you charge for this Life Altering Elixir?” “Why isn’t it obvious, one cent per bottle. A penny for their thoughts! It covers the cost of the tea and the bottle. You see my medicine is inexpensive, but the value of the instructions is priceless. Anything that causes us to spend more time with The Master will cause us to react like Him.

So we poured ourselves two glasses of elixir, which is odd, because I don’t like Tea, and we reflected on God’s goodness all day. Thinking about God will alter your outlook, and brighten your day.

If you’re struggling, or having a bad day, and we all do, try following the doctor’s instructions. I guarantee that concentrating on Jesus will improve your day, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Here is the God given prescription from the Apostle Paul.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Meet Dr. Ed

The following is a fictional, hopefully inspirational, interaction. It occurs in a studio in a corner of my imagination. It is my hope that this light hearted interview will bring a smile to your day.

T.J.: As it is our readers first time talking to you, I’d like to let you just give them some background.

Ed: I will be glad to proceed with the interesting interrogation examining my inner character and characteristics.

T.J.: You’re a doctor aren’t you?

Ed: Yes, I’m a H.O.P.E. and am trained in S.I.L.L.Y. and J.O.Y. Seminars.

T.J.: Those letters mean what?

Ed: You mean other than how much school cost my Parents?

T.J.: You’re fictional, so it didn’t cost them.

Ed: Well, you get what you paid for. H.O.P.E. stands for the study of the History Of Positive Encouragement. S.I.L.L.Y. seminars are Strategically Inspiring those you Love and Lead while denying Yourself. J.O.Y. is paradigm training, it means Jesus Others and You. This is the order that we should follow in our lives.

T.J.: So through laughter you help people.

Ed: I try. There is so much negativity in the world today. So many hurting people, desperate folks, and angry people. Why put down when you can build up? Why not find a way to make people laugh?

T.J.: You got your name for a reason, what was it?

Joshua 22:34
And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the Lord is God.

Ed: I was named after an Altar, loosely Ed means Witness. So I witness to those who need a shot of upliftment the arms. After all, flabby arms aren’t flattering, neither are flattened spirits. Sadness seeps into lives and controls them. My job is to edify, enlighten, and engage in laughter!

T.J.: With your looks, I can understand the laughter. Orange and yellow bow tie, silver buzz cut, Einstein mustache, cowboy hat in your hand, and a brown suit with burgundy shoes. You look like a cartoon drawing Ed!

Ed: That’s Dr. Ed to you, and my visual characteristics are your curious construction sir! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a patient arriving soon.

T.J.: Who are you treating today?

Ed: A songbird that’s forgotten her song.

T.j.: How will you help her, give her sheet music?

Ed: You hopeful boy, you went looking for humor, too bad it alluded you so completely! No, I merely shall remind her of her reason for singing. She is alive, living in a world of God’s creation, with an opportunity to bless others.

T.J.: To bless others?

Ed: Yes, through her song! Give her a reason to be happy, and she’ll remember her song. You see, she’s not really forgotten her song. She has forgotten her reason to sing, remind her of that, and the words will come easy.

T.J.: So if I meet someone sad today, I should tell them they have reason to be happy?

Ed: No! No! No! They won’t need your knowledge, but they may need a kind smile, a hug, or simply a I love you! Lift them up to where they can see the sky, and they’ll know what to do once they’re there. Share your love, not your opinions Timothy!

T.J.: Yes, Dr. Ed, see you next time!

Click here for your next appointment with Dr. Ed!